Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Pulling Silk Threads & Beads for a Project to Savor


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The other day, I pulled threads and beads for an embroidery project I have a mind to do.

It’s a project I want to savor. And although I won’t be starting it right away (still finishing up some Christmas stuff!), once I do start, it’s going to be one of those no-pressure projects. I’m going to take it slow and easy and really enjoy the heck out of it!

It’s a monogram from Elisabetta’s book, Ricamare Il Mare (A Sea to Stitch), which I reviewed here and which you will find available here in my shop.

I’ve been itching to stitch one ever since I clapped eyes on Elisabetta’s samples! I couldn’t resist pulling threads and other delectables for it the other day. I felt a little sneaky because I had other things to do, but you know how it is when a project is stewing in your head and you just can’t resist its siren call!

For my version, I’ll be mixing up some silk threads, specialty threads, and beads. Once I start on it, I’ll keep you updated on my progress, I’ll share tips and discoveries along the way, and I’ll let you know what choices I make along the way as far as materials go. If you want to follow along when I get to that point, you’ll need your own copy of the book (of course). I won’t be sharing Elisabetta’s patterns, her interpretations of elements into stitches, or anything like that. Just my journey, which you’re welcome to join me on when I finally head out!

A Sea to Stitch Monogram in Silk, Beads, & Specialty Threads

You might recognize some of the colors I’m starting out with, since I made heavy use of them in this project, Jacobean Sea, earlier this year.

I still plan to fill this color selection out a little. I need some very dark green-blues, and I might even touch into some true blues for a bit of skyish brightness.

When I pull materials for a project, I always pull an excess of threads and colors. There’s no way in the world I will use them all (!), so as I go, I narrow down the choices that work best for what I have in mind.

This is one of the reasons I don’t start my project explorations by publishing a materials list.

Could you imagine? “I’m using all of these threads….” followed by a gazillion color numbers of silks. If any of you jumped on the wagon at the beginning with a list like that, you’d be investing heavily in so many colors we’d never actually use! And you would probably be very angry with me!

So I pull the colors I like, I start working, and I make decisions as I go. I might pull in some new colors, trade out others, try one and love it, try another and hate it — whatever the case, you can be sure the thread list I start with is never the thread list I end with!

A Sea to Stitch Monogram in Silk, Beads, & Specialty Threads

Unlike Jacobean Sea, on this monogram, I want to pull in some rusts and reds. I don’t know if the red on the left will do it – at this point, it’s just lingering there as a shady possibility.

For fabric, you probably won’t be too surprised if linen is my choice. I expect it will be a natural colored linen or a sandy colored linen, and I might even go for something a little rougher than usual. I don’t want to stress the threads, but I kind of like the idea of a linen that’s got a little grit to it. I think the contrast between a rougher linen and some glorious silk would be interesting on something that’s sandy in theme.

We shall see!

A Sea to Stitch Monogram in Silk, Beads, & Specialty Threads

Speaking of grit, I plan to bring beads into the picture. No surprise.

The delicas (the tiny tube-shaped glass beads) you see in the photo above are a really nice mix of sandy colors that I like a lot. However, I’d rather find the same mix (or very similar) in 15/0 round seed beads, rather than in delicas. Another “we’ll see.” There will definitely be some beads. I have a picture in my head, and it requires beads.

Pearls? Yes. I imagine these in contrast to the Palestrina stitch that Elisabetta makes use of abundantly in the monograms. I love Palestrina stitch, and I love the texture it brings to the monograms. It is reminiscent of rope, with a bit of knottiness about it. Definitely sea-ish in this design set.

The pearls, as I envision it, will play opposite to that look, and they’ll conjure up further visions of the sea’s treasures.

A Sea to Stitch Monogram in Silk, Beads, & Specialty Threads

Speaking of rope, silk-wrapped purl is an exquisite thread that will work well for adding texture. I plan a little stretching and couching with this.

A thread like this can be so exciting – it’s always play time, once the specialty threads and beads make an appearance.

A Sea to Stitch Monogram in Silk, Beads, & Specialty Threads

So that’s that! It was a lovely indulgence, selecting threads and in imagining my interpretation for the monograms in A Sea to Stitch. I’m setting these aside now like a good girl, until I finish up a few looming projects that must be completed in the next few weeks. Then, as things wind down for the year, I plan to treat myself to this project. I can’t wait! This is going to be a great carrot!

A Sea to Stitch

If you want to pick up a copy of A Sea to Stitch, now would be a great time since I have in them in stock at the moment. They arrived from Italy just night before last, and they’re all packaged and ready to ship domestic priority mail.

It’s a grand book, and if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it will surely be your winter escape! (And who doesn’t need a little escape right now?)

And now, alas, play time is over. It’s back to the grindstone! I’m writing some project instructions for you, and I hope to have them ready before Thanksgiving weekend. I’ll be hugging a teapot and plunking away at my keyboard until they’re finished! Wish me luck!


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(13) Comments

  1. Mary,
    I am greatly anticipating following your progress on your monogram. I already have the book, ordering it as soon as you said it was available! I too, love the sea and the monograms are gorgeous! I too, hope to follow you with my own project, so I will appreciate your thread choices and other embellishings.
    I did recognize the colors from the Jacobean Sea, (love the colors!), and I still hope you may release the kit in your shop (you can add my name to a list, if you have one!). I’m really looking forward to savoring this project with you!

  2. Mary, my book just came and I’m also squirreling away thread. Yes, I too thought they would look good in silk. I’ve decided to make a wallet using some of the elements from page 48. My friend, Mary would like to have a traveling Tea wallet.

    In the interim, I’m practicing some of her stitches. Her linen is really lovely, Graziano 6262 would be a definite special order item. I wish I had a piece of it, so I could figure out what to substitute.

    I guess it will just be an adventure.

  3. Hi Mary,
    I absolutely love this book. My copy should arrive sometime next week, can’t wait. I’m so glad you will be sharing your progress on this project.
    Many thanks

  4. I can see the brand/source of the threads in the skeins but what about the threads on the spoils and the silk wrapped purl?

  5. Mary, I have a question though it is not about what you have shared today. I am trying to learn Long and Short Stitch from your lessons and I see that your long stitches are 3/8 in length, and was wondering if that is the length all the long stitches should be? I hope to eventually be able to do one of the monograms from your ebook ‘Favorite Monograms’ in long and short stitch.
    I shall also definitely be watching all the magic you will be bringing to a ‘Sea to Stitch’. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Louisa

    1. It really depends. You should practice the stitch a bit and see what works best for you, for the space you’re trying to fill and for the type and amount of blending you’re doing. I think if you just practice the stitch a bit, you’ll get the hang of what works best for you and what gives you the look you want. You can’t be too precise about “should it be exactly this length or that length” because stitch length varies, depending on what you’re doing, the threads you’re using, the area you’re stitching, and so forth.

  6. Like you, I love the sea and I can’t wait to follow along with your monograms! Those colours are delightful and I’m looking forward to seeing the stitches and materials you end up liking. It’s always so interesting and inspiring to follow your creative process 🙂

  7. Your version will very-much match the “Jacobean Sea” with pearls and pearlescent luster; I am looking forward to it!

  8. Dear Mary

    What a lovely exercise and Elisabetta Sforza book A sea to Stitch is a beautiful book as you showed in your review, I love the threads and the silk wrapped purl you maybe selecting for the project and I can’t wait to see your progress on it I’m sure it will be an exciting project for you. I’m also interested to see what the project instructions are and hopefully we will see them by your thanksgiving. Thank you for letting us into your future project and the colours you are thinking of using and for sharing this with us and for the lovely photos, have a great weekent.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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